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First mass of the year Sunday 11:30am

First mass of the year followed by a meal and hopefully a walk:).

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Christ The King Catholic Chaplaincy

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Starts 22/09/13 11:30am

 

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Sunday Student Mass at Christ the King is followed by lunch and a walk.  What other church offers so much.

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Here you will find all the news from Plymouth CathSoc and Catholic Chaplaincy, this pages pull news from our blog, check it out for more info.

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Is God cruel to allow a person to perish?

Posted April 15th, 2015 by

The Last Judgement Church of the Mother of God of Kazan, Tolyatti

It is not a lack of love, compassion or mercy on God’s part that a person effectively condemns them self so that they are deprived of eternal life. It seems like there are many people today who find it difficult to accept this. For some it seems that God must be cruel to allow anyone to perish. This affects, of course, their understanding of divine mercy, and their understanding of the gift of free will.

In many ways the gift of free will is a terrible gift! Well it is both terrible and amazing rolled into one! Made in the image and likeness of God, human beings are given the gift of free will. Even when their minds are darkened by ignorance and attachment to sin, they still possess free will (although it can be diminished greatly once we form vices or addictions). It is a divine gift for us to have the freedom to do the good thing, to do the right thing, to do the sacrificial thing – in other words to be able to love as God loves. Love cannot be coerced. Deeds of love cannot be compelled. Freedom is the freedom to do the divine will, the right thing. But freedom also enables us to fall, otherwise it would not be a freedom of will. This freedom is what makes us culpable for our actions done in freedom. And the choices we make shape our character. Repeated good acts encourage a virtuous character; repeated sinful acts encourages vice.

So in freedom we are capable of actions that can result in the end to a deprivation of eternal life, as our Lord says in the gospel today (Jn 3:18). Divine mercy is the offering to human beings of a way out, a way to turn their lives in a different direction. Divine mercy resulted in our redemption, so that now by choosing to receive and cooperate with the grace of God, we can repent, be forgiven, grow in virtue, find true happiness and by grace, come to eternal life.

But our Lord is not lacking in mercy by saying that judgement results from the acceptance or rejection of the divine light – which is Jesus Christ. If we prefer the dark because we want to hide our sins, then we reject the light and thus the judgement is deprivation of eternal life. This is merciful justice because we have had the chance to choose another path but rejected it.

(See also the Catechism: CCC 219, 444, 454, 458.)

Fr Ian


United heart and soul

Posted April 14th, 2015 by

“The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul…” One of the striking descriptions of the early Church in the Acts of the Apostles was its unity. Such was this unity that they even shared all their possessions. Such was the effect of the Resurrection and descent of the Holy Spirit that those early disciples looked to the things above and saw the things of the earth in true perspective. We are told that none of the believers was in want, each had what they needed.

Of course this would be too hard to continue to organise within the Church as it began to expand so quickly through the gentile world. Nevertheless this outward sign of the priority of the things above would continue to be present through the ages in the communities of monks and nuns, and then later in the mendicant orders (e.g. Franciscans).

This unity of the believing community remains a firm characteristic of the Church. The unity of the Church is not something that believers give to the Church. Unity is not a goal but is in fact something the Church possesses as being intrinsic to her very nature. She is one because Christ is one. Christ is one because He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

One of the problems with the Reformation is that in a way Protestants legitimated to themselves disunity. They reduced the criteria of unity to suite their situation. Unity became essentially an invisible thing, and it didn’t really matter that there were lots of separate groups of Protestants believing different things, because there was this invisible unity.

The Catholic Church refutes this understanding of unity. Unity is a characteristic of the Church which is the Body of Christ. Just as the Head and Body cannot be separated, so parts of the Body cannot be visibly separated either.

St Bede, in his homilies on the gospels, says, “The Spirit also comes of his own accord, because just as he is equal to the Father and the Son, so he has the same will in common with the Father and the Son.” St Bede was reflecting on the Spirit being likened to the wind which goes where it wills. What St Bede is reminding us is that this does not mean the Spirit is operating independently from the other two Persons of the Trinity. All three divine Persons are united. It is just that we, from our perspective, cannot fathom the mystery of the workings of the Holy Spirit.

So also in the Church there cannot be different versions of Christianity teaching different things as being true. There can be different cultural expressions of the truth but they must all be expressing the same deposit of faith. In the Catholic Church there is diversity of expression but one faith, because there is one teaching authority (the Magisterium). This teaching authority is Christ Himself teaching through those whom He gave authority to guide the Church in the truth (the Apostles with Peter as their head).

Of course it is possible for people to dissent from this teaching of the Church, but in doing so they are dissenting from the teaching of Christ. So let us pray for the unity of the Church, that all disciples of Christ may accept the authority of the Church to teach the truth which the Holy Spirit imparts through the Bishops in communion with the Successor of St Peter. United in faith the Church will then be able to be much more effective in its mission, just as the early Church was so effective.

Fr Ian


Passover and Baptism

Posted April 13th, 2015 by

“Everything that happened to Christ let us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father’s voice, we become sons of God.” St. Hilary of Poitiers

Through His Passion, Death and Resurrection, Christ opened to all men the waters of Baptism through which we can be saved.

On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus had shared with His disciples that He would suffer and die, and He called this His “baptism” with which He said He had to be baptised (Mk 10:38). We can also consider Christ’s passion, death and resurrection as His Passover (Pascha). These two things, Passover and Baptism, are linked. One points to the Old Covenant and the other begins something New.

The original Passover celebrated from the time of the Exodus onwards, marked the deliverance of God’s people from slavery and death into a new life together of freedom to worship God aright. The Church teaches us that this was to point to the Passover of Christ which brings about not a temporary deliverance, but an eternal deliverance. The first Passover in Exodus delivered them temporarily, but the Passover of Christ liberates us for eternity.

The Passover of Christ is offered to all men and is received through Baptism. So by Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, Christ has opened to all men the saving waters of Baptism. We hear in today’s Gospel our Lord speaking about Baptism with Rabbi Nicodemus (although Nicodemus recognises Jesus as his Rabbi). Jesus pronounces solemnly in verse 3 a truth of the Christian faith: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew*, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Christ asserts here the necessity of a new Baptism which is necessary for salvation. This new Baptism was not the Baptism of John, which was merely a symbol of repentance, but a Sacrament which enables men to enter the life of grace; making men into children of God through sanctifying grace.

The blood and water that flowed from the side of Christ on the cross were types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the Sacraments of New Life. Now the world has entered into a new age when it becomes possible for people to “be born of water and the Spirit” so that they can enter into the Kingdom of God.

As children of God who have received the grace of Baptism let us then live not the old way of sin and death, but live by grace the new life of faith, hope and love. In the power of that grace let us renew our desire and resolve to turn away from the old way of sin, and grow in the virtues that Christ through His Spirit seeks to bestow on us.

Fr Ian

* The Greek word used here can be translated as “from above” or “again”.

Note: the Church recognises that there is also Baptism of desire for those who were not able to be baptised but nevertheless desired it. She also recognises the Baptism of blood in which a person is martyred for his faith in Christ. And mother Church also recognises the possibility of salvation for those who have not heard Christ’s message, but have sincerely followed God’s will in accordance with their understanding of it. Nevertheless none of this should lead us to underplay the necessity of Baptism and see it as absolutely crucial in the mission of the Church. See Catechism, CCC 1257-1261.


It is the Lord!

Posted April 10th, 2015 by

The risen Lord appears to the disciples again continuing to build up their faith. But yet again they do not immediately recognise Him. On this occasion they are fishing in Galilee (or Sea of Tiberias) when someone calls to them and invites them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They do not recognise that the person is Christ. Nevertheless they do as they are told and they bring in a miraculous catch. The fish are in such great numbers that they cannot draw in the net, though the net does not break. Meanwhile Peter suddenly recognises that the person is the Lord.

This resurrection appearance has been long understood to have an allegorical meaning, as well as its literal meaning. In this episode we see symbolically the nature of the Church affirmed. The boat represents the Church, the sea the world, the fish those who enter the Church, and the net represents the unity of the Church that does not break but can contain unlimited numbers of members. If St Jerome is right and people thought then that there were 153 different species of fish, then symbolically the net of 153 fish symbolises the universality or catholicity of the Church, the Church for all nations and peoples. Peter in this episode represents the papacy and the magisterium (teaching authority) who leads the Church in confirming its members in the Faith.

The risen Lord’s invitation to breakfast is also a reminder of the Eucharist. In St John’s gospel the other reminder of the Eucharist is the feeding of the multitude, again at the side of Lake Galilee. Christ, the risen Lord, continues to invite us to His heavenly banquet. During Mass we hear the priest say, “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” As we glimpse the risen Lord by faith, by gazing on the Eucharistic species, let us speak in our heart with St Peter’s joy, “It is the Lord!”

Fr Ian


The wounds of the risen Lord

Posted April 9th, 2015 by

Even faced with the risen Lord the disciples are still struggling to believe what they can see, hear and touch. The hypothesis that somehow the disciples came up with the resurrection stories from their faith in the resurrection does not hold up – what is revealed here is that the disciples struggled to have faith; faith was born not from themselves but from encountering the risen Lord and grew by grace.

The risen Lord shows that He is the same person they knew by showing them His wounds. Here was the same body that had been crucified two days earlier. So not only was His body missing from the tomb, but now they can see the body with its wounds. So the evidence that He had risen is incontrovertible for the disciples.

Of course there is something altogether different about Him too! But He is not a vision, nor a ghost. He is physically there. To demonstrate His physicality He asks for something to eat, and they offer Him broiled fish. Ghosts or visions do not eat.

So the picture is building of what the nature of the resurrection is. The resurrected Lord is physically present with the body that was crucified. The risen Lord talks and eats. Together with this is the fact that He can appear to various people in different places (outside the tomb, on the road to Emmaus, then in a locked room). He seems no longer subject to the limitations of time, space and the laws of nature. He reveals therefore what His glorified body is like, and thereby shows what our resurrected and glorified bodies will be like.

Just as He had done for the disciples on the road to Emmaus, so He does for the Apostles. He opens their minds to the meaning of Scripture. So also for us, if we are to understand the Scriptures we must allow Christ to teach us by the Holy Spirit through the Church’s teaching authority (we cannot hope that personal interpretation will allow us to understand the Scriptures rightly!).

Finally our Lord commissions the Apostles to go and preach repentance and salvation to all people and nations. The Church dispenses the blessings of the New Covenant through the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments (see Mt 28:19-20 ‘baptism’, Jn 20:23 ‘confession’).

The Lord wants the fruit of His passion, death and resurrection to be shared with all people that they may turn away from the fallen life and through the grace of Christ live the risen life in Him. The capacity to do that comes through baptism, and our repeated failures to rise to the new life are rectified through the Sacrament of Penance. Through the Eucharist (if we receive it in a state of grace) our lives are increasingly ordered to the risen life.

Fr Ian


This amazing encounter models what the Church does

Posted April 8th, 2015 by

The Emmaus Disciples – Bloemaert (1622)

Today we hear (Lk 24:13-35) of the appearance of the risen Lord by some disciples on the road to Emmaus. We learn not only of this amazing encounter between the two disciples and the resurrected Christ, but also, at another level, how this encounter is a model of what the Church does for us.

The Church does for us what the risen Lord did for the disciples on the road. First He walked with them. Secondly He gave the ‘interpretation of Scripture’. Thirdly He celebrated the Eucharist (He took bread; He said a blessing; He broke it and gave it).

Through the Church our risen and ascended Lord walks with us. Our pilgrim journey as disciples is not a lonely one, but one in which we are accompanied by the Lord through His Church. The Church gives us the ‘interpretation of Scripture’, through the Church’s teaching authority (the magisterium). We do not need to wrestle alone with understanding the Scriptures but have the wisdom of all those who have been guided by the Holy Spirit to teach with authority. And, the Church celebrates and most truly is the Church when she celebrates the Eucharist.

We can come close to Jesus in the conversation of personal prayer and meditating on His words. We find Him present in our fraternal meetings, for when “two or three are gather in my name, there am I in your midst.” But our risen Lord makes Himself known to us in a wholly and qualitatively different way when we share the Bread of Life, His Body and His Blood.

So in this Eastertide let us rejoice that the Church is not primarily a human institution but that in the joyous encounter of the two disciples with the risen Lord on the road is a model of the Church. We can experience our Lord presence with us through the Church. We can be wholly confident in the magisterial teaching of the Church which is not the teaching of men but the teaching of Christ through His servants. And we are truly privileged to be able, by faith, to witness Christ Himself in the Eucharist. Let us not take any of these things for granted nor in any way work against them.

Fr Ian


Noli me tangere – Touch me not

Posted April 7th, 2015 by

Noli me tangere – Do not touch me – Fra Angelico

“Do not cling to me,” are words that might seem quite harsh to those, like Mary Magdala, who loved Jesus much and also were filled with intense grief, but at his risen appearance were asked to hold back. Jesus had not, all of a sudden, become like an Englishman, who preferred not to be so demonstrative with regard to affections! So what is happening here?

Well of course the Resurrection has occurred! And this is not just a resuscitation of Jesus’ body (like Lazarus being raised from the dead) but a wholly new way of being human. So of course the way in which people relate to the risen Christ is now different. Yes it will be a human way of relating but it will necessarily be a spiritual way.

Eventually of course, after the Ascension, the risen Lord will not be seen until the end of time, but only seen through the sacramental signs of the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of the Eucharist. The disciples must relinquish the physical presence of Jesus with which they were so comfortable. From now on the disciples of Jesus must embrace Him in a secret and marvellous way through prayer and faith.

Mary Magdalene here may well represent the contemplative spirit of the Church and thus shows us how we are to embrace the whole of Christ.

Fr Ian

 


Joy from receiving absolution from Christ!

Posted April 6th, 2015 by

Restoration of Peter – Raphael

Both the joy and the import of the Resurrection are imbued in the words of St Peter as he preaches the first papal sermon in Jerusalem on Pentecost Sunday. Peter is of course filled with joy – who would not be? His Master and Saviour who had become a victim of the Jewish authorities and then a victim of the Roman authorities even to a brutal death, was not overcome by death, but had risen.

For Peter personally, his sin against the Lord (denying his Master three times) had been forgiven. This is the joy we have too when we confess grave sin and experience the release from bondage in the absolution. It is a joyful resurrection experience – we were dead to sin, now we are alive to Christ! St Peter had been dead to the grave sin of denying Christ – now he was alive to the risen Christ!

And his joyful message for the Jews listening to him is that this Resurrection joy, through the forgiveness of their sins, can be there’s too. And of course, St Peter is addressing all of us in our sin; we too can receive the forgiveness of sins and experience the joy of the Resurrection life.

We who experience the Resurrection in this way, making use of the sacrament of penance, also have a duty to share it with others. Not necessarily like St Peter preaching in the streets of course, but nevertheless the joy of the Resurrection is not to be kept to ourselves.

Let us pray this Easter, that all of us may have the courage to proclaim in one way or another  the joy of the Resurrection with those who do not know it.

Fr Ian


A truly Good day – the triumphant movement of the biggest story of all

Posted April 3rd, 2015 by

On this Good Friday we enter into the greatest of mysteries and the very crux of our faith. And it is about the triumphant movement of the biggest story of all – the story of the human race.

In the origins of the human race we were created in goodness and love. Originally God made us in His own image and likeness. We lived in complete harmony and freedom. Made with freedom to love or not love, we were tested and alas failed the test. Satan tempted Eve, and then after Eve had fallen, she tempted Adam who also fell. Our ancient human ancestors fell from grace and innocence. The consequences of this fall were sin and death. We now did not freely delight in doing the good; instead we delighted in doing what was wrong. All the children and descendants of Adam and Eve suffer from this. And the fruit of this is all the evil we see in the world.

And we all inherit from our ancestors this propensity towards sin, which means in the end, death (real eternal death).  And so of course we need saving – we really, really need salvation, because, otherwise, all there is, is death for eternity (that’s what we call hell). So we need lifting up from this original sin and all our sins.  And the story of our salvation is a movement. It is a movement of descending and ascending, as St Paul puts so beautifully in his Philippian hymn (Phil 2:1-12).  God descends and becomes Man, that by our union with Him, we might ascend from our fallen state, and enjoy everlasting life (which is what we call heaven).

That sounds great until we realise the price of the descending.  For the healing to happen, Christ must enter obediently into the heart of our problem. The heart of our problem is sin. The only perfect, good man must submit Himself to become the victim of injustice, hatred, untruth, disobedience and evil – the whole gamut of our fallen nature – that He might enter even into death itself.  By facing death in obedience, in truth, in righteousness, in total goodness and in perfect love, He is able to conquer death; to conquer evil; to conquer our fallen-ness; to conquer sin. This is how the victory occurs and it is wonderful but it is also awful at the same time.

Christ our God became the Priest and Sacrifice in the great Mass offered for us on the Cross, and His death, made present in every Mass thereafter, brings us the grace of this victory, and indeed the grace through all the Sacraments.

And so we rejoice this day in the Triumph of the Cross of our Saviour Jesus Christ.  We glory in His victory, yes bought at such an awful price, yet a wondrous and glorious and entirely complete triumph over sin, death and evil.  Our Enemy is defeated and we rejoice! It is truly a Good day.

Fr Ian

 


Can it ever be a bad thing for a Catholic to receive the Lord in the Eucharist?

Posted April 2nd, 2015 by

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” 1 Cor 11:27

I remember talking to a group about how to prepare to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, when someone said that surely it was never a bad thing to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist? Well St Paul disagrees! The offending Corinthians were guilty of overeating, drunkenness and discrimination against the poor. This was sufficient for them to be in a state of mortal sin and therefore the act of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ became an act of sacrilege and self-condemnation. So indeed there are circumstances when receiving the Lord in the Eucharist is a gravely immoral act.

St John Chrysostom says, in his commentary on Corinthians, that receiving the Lord unworthily is an act equivalent to the soldiers who crucified our Lord! They spilled His precious blood but did not drink it. His blood was made to pour forth but it was not for the Eucharist.

So how do we make sure we are not like the crucifiers of Jesus by receiving the Eucharist unworthily? The simple answer is that we need to take seriously our preparation for the Eucharist. And the bottom line is that if we are aware that we have committed grave sin then we should not receive the Eucharist until we have gone to confession. This is the teaching of the church.

St Paul reckoned that sinning in this sacrilegious way resulted in the Corinthians received divine judgement through their weakness, sickness and in some instances even death (1 Cor 11:30).

On this day when the Church celebrates the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, let us renew our practice of preparing ourselves to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Let us examine ourselves and if our conscience convicts us of grave sin then let us refrain from receiving the Eucharist as an act of love towards our Lord, and let us hasten to the confessional to be reconciled and enter into the joy of the Lord.

Thanks be to God for His inestimable Gift.

Fr Ian


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